'It's about coming together': mental health funding announced same day advocate speaks in Windsor

On the same day when mental health advocate Steven Page, former lead singer with the Barenaked Ladies, spoke in Windsor, more than $2 million was announced in funding for mental health and addictions services for the region. 

More than $2M was announced in funding for mental health and addictions services

"The message is that people aren't alone," said Steven Page. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

On the same day when mental health advocate Steven Page, former lead singer with the Barenaked Ladies, spoke in Windsor, more than $2 million was announced in funding for mental health and addictions services for the region. 

MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, Rick Nicholls, said the funding will fix gaps that exist in the mental health and addictions systems. 

"The biggest problem with mental health services in Ontario is that most people can't get any of them" said Nicholls, calling those issues one of the "most serious challenges" facing families and youth. 

The province-wide funding of $174 million focuses on six priority areas of the mental health and addictions system:

  1. Reducing wait times.
  2. Enhancing addictions services.
  3. Adding mental health beds to hospitals.
  4. Creating additional housing.
  5. Building capacity for youth mental health services.
  6. Investing in services for Indigenous, remote and Francophone communities.

Receiving funding in Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton:

  • House of Sophrosyne — $305,271
  • Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation — $74,300
  • Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital — $651,100
  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Windsor-Essex County — $630,484
  • Maryvale Adolescent and Family Services — $300,103
  • Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario — $5,482
  • St. Clair Child and Youth Services — $87,768
  • Bluewater Health — $645,000 plus two beds

Robert Moroz, integrated director for the Canadian Mental Health Assocation (CMHA) with Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, said they knew the funding was coming. 

"The money we're getting is very much required and we're very happy to receive it," said Moroz, adding that the funding for CMHA will allow them to hire at least one more worker, in addition to dealing with some other ongoing problems. 

'Leaders in collaboration'

Moroz pointed to the increase in funding for rent supplements as one beneficial element. The association is expecting a $51,000 increase to the Rent Supplement Supportive Housing Program. 

"We used up all ours in partnership with other agencies in town," said Moroz. "We are looking at this in terms of the collaborative. Housing is such a huge deterrent in mental health outcomes."

Sonja Grbevski, vice president of mental health and addicitons at HDGH said the southwestern Ontario organizations receiving funding are "leaders in collaboration."

Vice President Brain & Behaviour Health Sonja Grbevski said there is a three month wait list for mental health services at the RCC. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"We recognize everyone has their strengths," said Grbevski. "It's about coming together and leveraging each of our strengths."

Grbevski said the needs are not new, and have been escalating in the past few years.

The funding will be spread out over the next ten years, but there are no "predetermined intervals of funding at this point," according to Nicholls' office. 

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky said the provincial government was announcing federal money. Nicholls office said $1.9 billion of the $3.8 billion spent in the province is from the Ontario government. He said the other $1.9 billion is from the federal government. A $1.75 million increase will become annual amidst other spending. 

"We have people who are going on wait lists to get mental health supports that they need," said Gretzky. "We have some good community partners who know what needs to be done to provide the level of service and care that people need, but they don't get the funding in order to be able to do that."

Mental health advocate shares struggle with depression, mental health

CMHA held a 'Breakfast of Champions' event shortly before the funding was announced. Steven Page, best known as the former lead singer for the Barenaked Ladies opened up in a keynote address about his own depression and mental health issues. 

Steven Page discuses how depression intersects with his work as an artist. 1:46

"The message is that people aren't alone," said Page. "The more I think all of us allow ourselves to be a little bit vulnerable in front of each other, the more empathy we can have."

Page said Ontario wasn't any better or worse than anywhere else in Canada.

"It seems to be the same pretty well everywhere," said Page, pointing to healthcare teams needing to work together, like family doctors and psychiatrists. "I think a lot of us, as patients, don't do good follow up."

He said access and education are "definitely lacking".

Grbevski said the funding will help them do a lot more programming for the community. 

"This whole announcement is a great movement for the mental health and addictions field."

With files from Chris Ensing


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.